SG Heart Map unveiled: See what Singaporeans say about their favourite places

Orchard Road is one of the 50 special areas that have been singled out to define "Singapore as home". Singaporeans like Dick Lee have fond memories of Orchard Road as a place to hang out because of its buzz and energy. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN  
Orchard Road is one of the 50 special areas that have been singled out to define "Singapore as home". Singaporeans like Dick Lee have fond memories of Orchard Road as a place to hang out because of its buzz and energy. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN  

SINGAPORE - After collecting 80,000 personal memories of places in Singapore, 50 special areas have been singled out that "define Singapore as home".

These places,including Orchard Road, Changi Airport,Toa Payoh and Pulau Tekong, were unveiled on Sunday.

Free tours will be organised to rediscover some of these spaces in June, July and August. Those interested can sign up on the SG50 website at www.heartmap.sg.

Here are 10 heartwarming recollections that Singaporeans shared about some of the places:

1. Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

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"When I was a kid, my parents used to drag me and my sister out of bed on weekends for family cycling rides from home to Bishan Park. It was only when I was much older that I learnt I was covering 10km per ride. It still felt really long then. But at some point, I got over the long distance and fatigue, and really began to enjoy the ride. To the point that I would ride to the park, imagining I was competing in the Tour de France."  - Aaron Chan

2. Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

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"About three years ago, I went on a date on the rooftop of Esplanade. I never knew how beautiful the skyline of Singapore was until I saw it at night. The city lights on the water, the way the lights lit up the sky - it was beautiful and almost perfect. Of course, ambience always makes a date better. And the chocolate-covered strawberries from the shop in the Esplanade. :) " - Venessa Neo

3. Orchard Road

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"Apart from spending time at either one of my two homes, I'm always to be found on Orchard Road. As a child, I followed my mother there as she went shopping in Glamourette, at Fitzpatricks supermarket, or had her hair done at Roland Chow's salon opposite the old wet market. In my teens, it became my hangout, from bowling at Jackie's Bowl to having a cheap meal at Car Park or Glutton's Square. And today, I still enjoy its buzz and energy, and marvel at how it's evolved from a a great street, to an even greater one." - Dick Lee

4. Pulau Tekong

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"This is a place where most Singaporeans' sons have to go serve out their BMT. Though not all soldiers have stepped onto Pulau Tekong before, it has become the symbol of military national service among the male populace. Your experience may be pleasant or nasty, but you can't deny that certain friendships and brotherhood are forged during this period of time. We may not keep in touch with some after we ORD/ROD, but these memories will stay with us for life!" - Alan Ang

5. Punggol Waterway

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"My family was the one of the last to move out of Punggol after it was selected for redevelopment. I remember spending my childhood there, catching fish, wandering through the farms and watching wayang. Fast forward 20 plus years and Punggol looks completely different now. A beautiful Punggol Waterway stands where my grandfather's house was previously located. It is amazing how fast Singapore develops. I am glad that despite building to cater for a bigger population, there are always many beautiful parks for fun and recreation." - Mag

6. Singapore Botanic Gardens

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"This is a special place for me - Botanic Gardens. This is a place where, when I was two-and-a-half years old, my parents decided to take me here to showcase my dancing talents. This beautiful tree is also where we had many class reunions, with many activities going around the tree. This is also a place where my boyfriend, now my husband, and I spent many hours strolling in the park during our courtship time. And now working in MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), this is also a favourite jogging place for me. I come here a few times a week. So it is that special place that brings back many fond memories, many endearments and many beautiful moments." - Minister Grace Fu

7. Singapore Changi Airport

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"Changi Airport! That is the gateway to the world, but also the first place that welcomes me home. It reminds me that no matter where my work takes me, home is right here in Singapore. Nothing thrills me more than when the SQ stewardess announces, 'And to all Singaporeans and PRs, a warm welcome home' when we touch down." - Paulin Tay Straughan

8. Singapore Sports Hub

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"The National Stadium has always held a special place in my heart. I can still remember those days where we would go almost every weekend to watch the Malaysia Cup matches and the way we stamped our feet in anticipation of doing the Kallang Wave.

There would be much cheering along the way to Kallang MRT after the match when the team won and almost absolute silence when the team lost. We cheered as one when we won and sulked as one when we lost. It's really an amazing sight. There was such a strong sense of identity, togetherness and bonding as a nation cheering the National Team on. Every single fan of the 55,000 crowd felt connected. I even remembered hugging strangers when we won the Malaysia Cup!

While I must admit that there is a tinge of sadness when the (old) National Stadium was torn down, I'm also pleasantly surprised that the new National Stadium and Sports Hub today have so much more to offer in terms of sports and overall experiences. My family goes there on a weekly basis now. Recently, I took my daughter to the WTA Finals for her first live tennis match and my son to the Brazil-Japan International Soccer Friendly Game for his first experience watching a live soccer game.

Sitting in the new stadium, I was wowed by the new spectacle and the fond memories of the past Malaysia Cup came back to my mind. Although it's not the national team that was playing that night, the feeling of cheering and doing the Kallang Wave was exactly the same. In fact, it was even more special because I did the wave this time with my son, at the brand new National Stadium.

And while I recollect my thoughts and memories of the past and enjoying that moment, I'm sure for my son it is only the beginning of many more future special moments and memories for him, at our beloved National Stadium." - E S

9. Toa Payoh

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"The dragon playground provides a sense of familiarity and comfort to being a child again. I always feel welcomed and protected by the smiling dragon who probably feels 'tickled' when children run down his colourful spine. Hopping around in our pyjamas and barefooted on the sandpit was the perfect way to go! Nobody really cared if your shirt didn't match your shorts or if there were little holes on them. All that mattered was the adventure we had!

Recently, I went back to the playground to take my wedding photographs. While we were there, a mother brought her two kids to play and another two children were chasing each other in their pyjamas. Two kids built sandcastles and the other two ran up the dragon head and climbed down the spine continuously. How fun and how carefree!

Fifty years later, my wedding photographs will remind me again how it feels like to be a Singapore child in the 1990s." - Han Zi Rui

10. West Coast Park

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"With exciting high obstacles and luxurious verdant greenery, this was the place where I first challenged my fear of heights long before Universal studios had opened. One of my first outings with a friend was spent here and I had a whale of a time as a child desperately scrambling up the pyramid tower, jostling along with two dozen kids. I also fondly recall myself screaming and whooping on the flying fox, shuttling between ends before racing my friend on the playground obstacles. To end the morning, a satisfying meal at McDonald's finished our time of smiles." - Charis